Money Smart | By Ryan Ong -Wed, 26 Dec 2012
Yes, I’m a scrooge who budgets on long weekends. I know I’ll end up needing the money see? (Way I party, I’ll need another holiday to recover from the holidays). Unfortunately it’s December, so tourism prices are going up like a house on fire. Just use these methods though, you’ll shrink those expenses:
1. Space Out Trip Highlights
Most of the time, people go over-budget because they’re bored. Veteran traveller Anisa, who’s been writing tour articles for over three years, says:
“On a long weekend, some people hit all the major highlights in one day. Then for the next two days, they’re hanging around cafes, souvenir shops, hotel bars…
This is actually when money gets wasted. It’s when you have nothing left to do, so the last recourse is to shop and buy nonsense.”
But what about attractions that don’t last the whole day?
“When you’re done,” Anisa says, “Go back to the hotel room and relax. There’s nothing wrong with watching HBO for the rest of the day, and being fresh for tomorrow’s highlight. But just don’t end up in situations where there’s nothing else planned for the next two days.”
2. Don’t Assume Tour Agents Cost More
Maybe if you hadn’t tried booking yourself… oh well. Here’s some tape. And hang on to that wing now.
An old traveller’s tactic is to dodge tour agents. These travellers will book flights and hotels themselves, and hitch-hike if they have to. Because hey, if you cut out the middleman, the trip has to cost less right?
Well according to Anisa:
“This has not been true for a long time. These days, for just a long weekend, you will probably end up spending more if you skip the agent.
Tour agents work with a lot of hotels and transport providers. Because they have ongoing deals, they are usually cheaper than organizing it yourself. If I have to give a ballpark figure, for travels in Asia, I’d guess they save you maybe 10%.”
Anisa says agents only cost more if “you pick elaborate packages, where they take you sight-seeing and so forth. Then they’ll direct you to a lot of tourist traps. Just get the agent to handle the hotel and the trip, do other things yourself.”
3. Use the Right Credit Cards
It’s just our prices that aren’t.
Use credit cards as a payment method only. In other words, pay back the credit card immediately after using it. If you can manage this, credit cards can get you major discounts.
If you’re going to far flung places like Europe or America, consider frequent flyer cards. For places like Batam or Bali, where entertainment largely consists of inspecting bar-room floors, use entertainment cards. Anisa also suggests you check which cards have hotel discounts (call ahead and ask), and apply for those before you leave.
You can visit sites like SmartCredit.sg to find the right plastic.
However, Anisa cautions that:
“If you bring a credit card, make sure you have the card company’s number in contacts. And always check the expenditures online, every day. Credit card fraud is a major problem in some countries.”
4. Go Light, Come Back Heavy
Tour group? We’re just looking at Ryan’s single- weekend luggage.
Oh yeah, this happens when I eat in Batam.
“I’m referring to luggage!” Anisa says, “For long weekends, a lot of people will use budget airlines. These have charges for extra luggage. So I usually don’t pack more than one set of clothes.
Things like toiletries, extra clothes and so forth, I will buy over there as I need. When it’s time to go, I just I leave the cheap clothes or toiletries behind, and replace them with souvenirs or whatever.
Basically, I just *never* carry things like loads of extra clothes, shampoo, and so on.”
Just be careful that, when getting your toiletries and clothes, you don’t end up randomly shopping.
5. Bring Emergency Entertainment
Yeah, I was there 72 hours. Didn’t see much.
This relates to point 1. Say you picked a bad vacation spot, and the place is more barren than that ice planet in Star Wars. It’s turning out to be the dullest long weekend ever.
The first thing you do, according to Anisa, is to lock the wallet and credit cards away:
“Don’t start shopping. Don’t go to the bar. You should have brought some emergency entertainment; bring games that you can play as a family, or with your significant other. Card games are quite portable.
Then there are books and tablets. You’re not wasting your holiday, not if you sip a coffee and read by the beach.”